Monday, March 16, 2009

Confirmation retreat at St. Anne's Shrine - Pt 1

The past weekend (this was written long ago, last month, to be exact), I facilitated a confirmation retreat for about forty 16 and 17 year old kids at St. Anne's Shrine in BM. The retreat was themed Growing In Faith Together and emphasized the need for each Christian to grow in maturity in all aspects of their lives and in their faith and that this growth occurs in the context of the Christian community.

Before leaving, we assembled in front of the Shrine of Mary in our parish Church to receive a blessing from Fr. Marshall, our parish priest who invoked God's blessings on us as we went on our way.




Fr. Marshall giving the kids a lecture and sending us off with a blessing.


The camp was held at the conference and boarding facilities at the Shrine of St. Anne in Bukit Mertajam. Called the Domus St. Anne, kinda like the Domus Sancta Martha in the Vatican, it has excellent facilities and rooms.


The sessions were started off with some energetic singing and action dances to liven things up a bit. Music was provided by last year's student Daniel, on guitar with Amy and Meriel doin the action dances.


I found the whole thing hilarious and rather amusing =)


In a more thoughtful and sombre atmosphere, I began the sessions by recalling the historic nature of the Catholic Faith that has been handed on by faithful men and women, all the way from the time of Christ to our own day.

I also showed them the extent of the persecution endured by the early Christians to transmit that faith. It is their fidelity, in human terms, that resulted in the Faith being passed on to us today. Being Christian meant death to the early martyrs and many did pay the ultimate price with their blood and their lives in confessing the Faith. And many still do today.

We saw the suffering and persecution that Christians undergo in our own time and the sacrifices that missionaries, bishops and priests face to spreading and keeping the Faith in many places such as in Islamic countries and Communist China. So many people have to travel so far to reach a Church and many others in the interior regions only see a priest once a month or more. And yet, it's so sad that we in Malaysia and others in the West who have free access to Churches and the Sacraments, do not make full use of this great gift.


And talking about gifts, each person has a gift. As the parable of the talents remind us, there's no one without any gift. Each person has at least one and many have more. For those who have more, much is expected. For those who have less, we are called to make the most of what we have and use it in the service of God's Kingdom and the Giver of our gifts.

However, very often we ourselves are not aware of the gifts which we possess and others may see gifts which we did not know we had.


In order to help the kids discover their gifts and talents, a version of the affirmation game was played and the kids accordingly wrote down the talents that they perceived that friends possessed.


Disappointingly, some discovered that their only talents were their height and and hairstyle. Which led me to conclude that sometimes, people who only focus on the externals lose sight of the really important things inside which they would discover if they so chose and actually took the time. Sigh... how God sees us and how the world sees us sure is different.

Also, sometimes, people only see what we choose to show them. Many have hidden talents which remain buried under the tree like the talents in the parable because we do not use them for the glory of God and for this we will be held accountable.


For others, the session did however reveal hidden and undiscovered gifts which theywere not aware they possessed while others realized that things they took for granted were in actual fact, gifts which could be used in the service of God and of neighbour.


Our own humility learned some stuff about himself =)


All were then encouraged to look at the lists and ponder how they might utilize these gifts from God in His service.


More to come...

1 comment:

Nicholas.B said...

It just brought back memories when i look at the pictures.